Aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic (AAP) bacteria are microorganisms that can harvest light energy using bacteriochlorophyll a to supplement their predominantly organotrophic metabolism. Growth enhancement by light has repeatedly been demonstrated in laboratory experiments with AAP isolates. However, the ecological advantage of light utilization is unclear, as it has never been proven in the natural environment. Here, we conducted manipulation experiments in the NW Mediterranean and found that AAP bacteria display high growth rates which are controlled to a large extent by intense grazing pressure and phosphorous availability. Foremost, we found that, contrarily to the bulk bacterioplakton, AAP bacteria display higher growth rates when incubated under light-dark cycles than in complete darkness. These results represent the first direct evidence that natural populations of marine AAP bacteria can be stimulated by light.